Missouri woman pleads guilty to selling 7 machine gun conversion devices

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A woman from Stoddard, County, Missouri on Monday admitted selling seven devices that turn AR-15-style semiautomatic rifles into machine guns.

Sidney Brianne Scowden, 41, pleaded guilty in front of U.S. District Judge Stephen N. Limbaugh, Jr. to one count of conspiracy to transfer a machine gun and three counts of transfer of a machine gun.

In her plea, Scowden admitted that on Aug. 11, 2022, she sold three “lightning links” for $500 each to someone working with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. She sold another three on Sept. 19, 2022, and a final one on Oct. 19, 2022.

Lightning links, also known as drop-in auto sears, convert a semiautomatic AR-15-style rifle into an automatic weapon. Even if not installed in a firearm, they are considered machine guns under federal law.

Scowden had reached out to the person working with the ATF on Snapchat, asking “You know anyone who wants to buy a lightning link for an AR to go fully automatic,” her plea says.

Scowden is scheduled to be sentenced on May 9. The conspiracy charge carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison, a $250,000 fine, or both. The charge of the transfer of a machine gun carries a maximum sentence of 10 years and the same fine.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives investigated the case.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy Willis is prosecuting the case.